1. Profile
    1. Basic legislation
    2. Legal definition
    3. Guidelines and codes of conduct
    4. International arrangements
  2. Planning
    1. Authorization system
    2. Access to land and water
    3. EIA
  3. Operation
    1. Water and wastewater
    2. Fish movement
    3. Disease control
    4. Drugs
    5. Feed
  4. Food safety
    1. Miscellaneous
      1. References
        1. Legislation
        2. Related resources
      2. Related links
        Basic legislation
        In Venezuela, the main piece of legislation regulating the matter is the Fisheries and Aquaculture Law  (Ley de Pesca y Acuacultura) (2001), according to which the Ministry of Agriculture and Land   (Ministerio de Agricultura y Tierras) is in charge of drafting the national fisheries and aquaculture policy, as well as the international fisheries policy. The National Institute for Fisheries and Aquaculture (Instituto Nacional de la Pesca y Acuicultura – INaPesca) – an autonomous institution with legal personality, attached to the Ministry – assists the Ministry in establishing the National Plan for the Development of Fisheries and Aquaculture, in keeping with the National Development Plan. Additionally, it is worth mentioning that a National Programme for Inland Aquaculture (Programa Nacional de Piscicultura) was created in 1976, with a view to ensuring food security.

        The Ministry is also responsible for issuing regulations on hydrobiological resources management, whereas the National Institute for Fisheries and Aquaculture may only issue regulations on the conservation of hydrobiological resources in coordination with the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Ministerio del Ambiente y los Recursos Naturales) to ensure sustainable aquaculture.

        Lastly, the Law provides that the Ministry has the power to authorize the conduct of fisheries, aquaculture and related activities. However, the granting of permits, licences and concessions is vested in the National Institute for Fisheries and Aquaculture.
        Legal definition
        The Fisheries and Aquaculture Law defines aquaculture as the “actividad humana destinada a la producción de recursos hidrobiológicos, bajo condiciones de confinamiento mediante la utilización de métodos y técnicas de cultivo, con un control adecuado, para procurar el óptimo rendimiento de los mismos” (human activity aiming at the production of hydrobiological resources in a confined environment, using cultivation methods and techniques, with appropriate control to ensure maximum yield [u.t.]).

        The Law also provides for a detailed classification of aquaculture activities, according to their purpose:
        • Subsistence aquaculture
        • Commercial aquaculture
          • Rural or Traditional
          • Industrial
          • Complementary
          • Tourism - Recreational
            • Restocking
            • Tourism
        Moreover, depending on the cultivation method, aquaculture is classified as extensive or intensive.
        Guidelines and codes of conduct
        There are no guidelines or codes of conduct on aquaculture.
        International arrangements
        Venezuela is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). In addition, it is one of the Andean Community nations (CAN – Comunidad Andina de Naciones).

        Venezuela is also a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and has ratified the Biosafety Protocol.
        Authorization system
        The authorization system is outlined in the Fisheries and Aquaculture Law and managed by the National Institute for Fisheries and Aquaculture. Authorizations are not transferable and do not include authorizations required for other purposes.
        • Aquaculture concessions are granted to natural and legal persons for the establishment of aquaculture activities in wastelands, common lands, national and territorial waters. Concessions last 15 years and are renewable.
        • Aquaculture permits allow the development and operation of aquaculture projects in public and private property areas. These permits are renewable and may have variable duration, depending on the type of activity.
        • Processing and commercialization permits are required to purchase, transport, process, import and export fish products or subproducts. Each operation entails the granting of a different permit, which will be valid until its completion.
        • Special permits cover aquaculture activities not mentioned above (didactic, scientific or prospective). They last one year and are renewable.
        • A generic approval is required for the development of aquaculture projects, with national, foreign or mixed capitals.
        • The development of any other activity related to aquaculture which needs to be authorized by the National Institute for Fisheries and Aquaculture is subject to a certification procedure.
        Access to land and water
        Access to land is the basis of the EIA system and is therefore discussed in the paragraph on EIA below (authorization for land occupation).

        Regarding water access, the Law on Forestry, Land and Water (Ley Forestal, de Suelos y de Aguas) (1965, as amended) and its Regulation (1969, as amended) set the procedure for the granting of concessions for the public waters use. Aquaculture is not specifically mentioned among the possible uses. However, it may be included in the use of water for the functioning of “any other agricultural or industrial companies”. Applications shall be filed with the Ministry of Agriculture and Land and accompanied by a technical study and a map of the concerned area. The terms and conditions shall be agreed in special contracts, which may have a maximum duration of 60 years.
        According to the Fisheries and Aquaculture Law, prior to the granting of an authorization for the establishment of a potentially harmful fisheries, aquaculture or related activity, the National Institute for Fisheries and Aquaculture may require the presentation of an Environmental Impact Study, approved by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. Correspondingly, the Rules on the Environmental Assessment of Activities that may Damage the Environment (Normas sobre Evaluación Ambiental de Actividades Susceptibles de Degradar el Ambiente) (1996) outline the procedure to be followed.

        Any natural or legal, public or private person intending to develop a project implying land occupation shall file an Intention Document (Documento de Intención) with the Ministry of Environment, in correspondence with the beginning of the feasibility study. The Intention Document shall mention the objectives, justification and description of the different options considered for the development of the project, the actions having potential environmental impact, the chronogram of activities and an estimate of the budget costs. Any further information available on the environmental components that may be negatively affected by the project shall be included. Within the following 30 consecutive days, the Ministry shall establish whether an environmental impact study is required. Shrimp aquaculture is included among the activities for which the filing of an Environmental Impact Study is mandatory.

        Following the affirmative response of the Ministry, the project promoters shall present a Terms of Reference Proposal (Propuesta de Términos de Referencia), which, once approved, will determine the content of the Environmental Impact Study.
        The Proposal shall include the following information:
        • Preliminary description of the project and of the environment;
        • Outline of the project area of influence;
        • Identification of the potential impact of the different project options;
        • Proposal for the content of the Study concerning the following matters:
          • Basic information for the drafting of the Study;
          • Methodology of the impact assessment;
          • Description of the prevention, mitigation and correction measures of the potential impact;
          • Analysis of the different options, with regard to the design, localization and technology;
          • Monitoring programme;
          • Outline of the Environmental Supervision Plan (Plan de Supervisión Ambiental);
          • Summary of the Environmental Impact Study.
        • Working plan;
        • Working team.
        The Ministry shall approve or refute the document within 45 consecutive days.

        Where an Environmental Impact Study is not required, the Ministry may call for a Specific Environmental Assessment (Evaluación Ambiental Específica) – for instance, in case of reconversion or closing up of an activity – or for other documentation in order to authorize the project.

        The Environmental Impact Study, the Specific Environmental Assessment or the other documentation required must be presented to the Ministry, jointly with the application for the approval or authorization of land occupation. Within 60 consecutive days, the Ministry shall notify the result of the review of the Study and the granting or denial of the authorization. The authorization shall contain the following details:
        • Short description of the project;
        • Proposed measures;
        • Conditions and recommendations.
        After the granting of the authorization and before the commencement of the activity, the project promoters shall file a new application with the Ministry for the granting of an authorization to affect renewable natural resources. The required documentation must be mentioned in the land occupation authorization.

        During the EIA process, the Ministry may allow public review and consultation of the Study. Moreover, approved Studies are made available to the general public in the Documentation Centres of the Ministry of Environment.

        In conclusion, it is noteworthy to mention that the Criminal Law on the Environment (Ley Penal del Ambiente) (1992) inflicts sanctions to public officers granting authorizations without complying with the EIA requirements.
        Water and wastewater
        The Law on Land and Agricultural Development (Ley de Tierras y Desarrollo Agrario) (2001) declares that agricultural waters are also intended for the development of aquaculture.

        Another reference to aquaculture is found in the Partial Regulation No.4 to the Organic Law on the Environment, on Water Classification (Reglamento Parcial Nº 4 de la Ley Orgánica del Ambiente, sobre Clasificación de Aguas) (1978), which determines the qualitative characteristics of waters intended for uses such as the cultivation of molluscs for raw consumption, agriculture or commercial fisheries.

        Concerning the discharge of wastewater, only agricultural production in general and fish products processing are explicitly mentioned among the activities that are subject to the standards established by the Rules on Liquid Effluents (Normas sobre Efluentes Líquidos) (1985).
        Fish movement
        The main authority in charge of regulating the import, export and transport of animal, plant and fish products is the Autonomous Health Service for Agriculture and Fisheries (Servicio Autonomo de Sanidad Agropecuaria – SASA), attached to the Ministry of Agriculture and Land. However, the Fisheries and Aquaculture Law states that the introduction of exotic species is subject to the approval of the National Institute for Fisheries and Aquaculture, to be granted in coordination with the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.

        Furthermore, the Law on Biological Diversity (Ley de Diversidad Biológica) (1999) sets the necessary framework to ensure the conservation of native species and of those having a scientific, cultural or economic value, on the one hand, and to control the introduction of exotic species and the establishment of activity that may have a negative impact on the biodiversity, on the other hand. In this direction, the Law provides that an application to the National Office for Biological Diversity (Oficina Nacional de la Diversidad Biológica) – authority attached to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources – is needed to access genetic resources. The procedure leads to the subscription of a contract and to the publication of a resolution in the declarative registry. The Law also establishes the main principles of biosecurity, requiring the National Government to regulate the introduction and commerce of GMOs.

        Lastly, according to the Rules on the Introduction of Panaeus Shrimps for Cultivation and Research (Normas para el Ingreso al País de Ejemplares Vivos de Crustáceos Camarones del Género Penaeus a los Fines del Cultivo e Investigación) (1984), the import of live specimens of Penaeus shrimps requires the granting of a permit by the Ministry of Agriculture. The application shall contain the following information:
        • Name of importer;
        • Country and establishment of origin;
        • Health certificate or report from the country of origin;
        • Presentation of the project;
        • Availability of the Quarantine Station where the specimens shall be kept after introduction.
        Following their introduction in the country, the specimens shall be examined by a Commission appointed for that purpose by the Ministry of Agriculture.
        Disease control
        Disease control is regulated by the Law on Animal and Plant Health (Ley sobre Defensas Sanitarias Vegetal y Animal) (1941), which does not make any specific reference to fisheries or aquaculture.

        The responsible authority for the prevention, control and eradication of animal, plant and fish diseases at a national level is the Autonomous Health Service for Agriculture and Fisheries.
        No provisions found.
        No provisions found.
        Food safety
        This matter is regulated by the General Food Regulation (Reglamento General de Alimentos) (1959), which establishes the standards for the processing, labelling, import and registration of food products in general. The Law does not specifically refer to fish products.

        As mentioned in the paragraph on the authorization system above, the processing and commercialization of fish products are subject to the granting of a permit by the National Institute for Fisheries and Aquaculture. On top of this, we shall remind that the main principles for the introduction and commerce of products containing GMOs are established by the Law on Biological Diversity (see § on fish movement).

        Lastly, the Agricultural Marketing Law  (Ley de Mercadeo Agrícola) (2002) regulates the commercialization of agricultural products, which include aquaculture products.
        Development/restoration fund
        The Fisheries and Aquaculture Law states that the financing of the fisheries and aquaculture subsector is among the responsibilities of the Development Fund for Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry and related sectors. In particular, aquaculture is considered a priority area. The Law also provides that the National, State and Municipal Authorities shall establish financing programmes and incentives to promote sustainable development of aquaculture and fisheries. The procedure to apply for loans is established by the Law on the Development Fund for Agriculture and Fisheries (Ley del Fondo de Crédito Agropecuario) (1988).
        Regulation to the Law on Forestry, Land and Water (Reglamento de la Ley Forestal, de Suelos y de Aguas) (1969, as amended).
        Related resources

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        Autonomous Health Service for Agriculture and Fisheries (Servicio Autonomo de Sanidad Agropecuaria – SASA).
        Related links
        Country profiles: Venezuela
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